However, in fact, workers in the banking industry are taking a massive
hit. CEOs were forced to take huge paycuts, and if their bank is in
trouble, they've already lost the greatest portion of their personal net
wealth. The banks are firing huge numbers of people, and the ones who are
left can count on their paychecks looking pretty anaemic this year. I know
that many of you would like to see every single one of them have their paycheck
reduced to that of a Nissan line worker, but it doesn't work that way. The
good people at those banks have better alternatives than being a Nissan line
worker, and have usually invested substantial amounts of time and money in
building human capital, rather than hitting the line after high school. If
you cap their pay there, they will leave to pursue those other
opportunities, leaving you a firm staffed with the rejects who can't work
elsewhere. Given that we are trying to save the banking industry, not
destroy it, that's not a good idea. A UAW worker, on the other hand, has
alternatives that are generally much worse than the wages on a Nissan line.
It makes me sick at heart to read this, because I know there are millions of people in this country who think the same as this post's author, our own Megan McArdle. I see them all the time, driving their SUVs and Hummers to take the kids to school, McCain/Palin stickers proudly decorating the back windows, where they can be easily removed. They support light rail in the neighborhood a few blocks away from them, but are enraged at the possibility of an apartment building in their area. They worked at Enron and work at Exxon and Haliburton. They can be overheard in shops talking about money or sex, and little else. They proudly stand in line to get in the latest restaurant or buy the latest gadget but will scream at service people if not helped fast enough. They truly make me sick.
You see, the bankers are worth more money because they invested time and money in improving themselves. Well, their parents did, but that's the same thing. The line workers just went straight to work after high school, and their parents didn't spend vast amounts of money on them for an education. By virtue of being born into affluence instead of poverty or relative poverty, the line worker is therefore of less value as a person and therefore doesn't deserve good middle-class pay, benefits or security. That is for superior people like McArdle.
Rejects. Fellow human beings are rejects to her.